Just one day after U.S. President Donald Trump issued orders to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and attack migrants living in the U.S., two outlets are reporting that he has also appointed Julie Kirchner, former head of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation of American Immigration Reform, as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
The Southern Poverty Law Center labels FAIR a hate group, crediting its white nationalist and pro-eugenics founder John Tanton with creating the modern anti-immigration movement in the U.S. by advocating a complete moratorium on all immigration and encouraging violence towards racialized migrants.
Kirchner worked with Tanton – who wrote that the U.S. “requires a European-American majority” – for years before leaving FAIR in 2015 to work on Trump’s campaign as an advisor on immigration issues.
Both Democracy Now! and the SPLC reported that Kirchner will serve as chief of staff at Customs and Border Protection, one of the world’s largest law enforcement agencies, which is in charge of customs, immigration, and border security.
However Rewire reported that when contacted the agency would not confirm Kirchner’s position, only saying she will serve as an advisor.
During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly cited “studies” by FAIR and its offshoot Center for Immigration Studies, which the SPLC also designates as a hate group noting that it distributes work by Holocaust deniers and white supremacists, to justify his racist immigration policies.
Just before Trump’s inauguration, FAIR bought advertisements calling for an end to Sanctuary Cities. On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order cutting off funding to cities which refuse to enable federal government attacks on migrants.
The appointment is especially concerning for migrant rights activists given the Border Patrol’s long history of violence towards migrants and the openly racist pronouncements of the U.S. Commander in Chief.
“Now that people feel like it’s OK to be proud of being racist [because of Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail], I think we will see an increased level of mistreatment and misconduct by Border Patrol agents — and there’s no way to stop it. No independent accountability measure has been put into place or will be put into place, and Congress doesn’t care. These things have been happening for a long time, but now we will face some of the most brutal aggression against immigrants and border communities,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Texas-based Border Network for Human Rights, in an interview with Rewire.